The SEJ WatchDog

 

The WatchDog TipSheet is a monthly source of story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the United States and Canada.

Journalists can receive WatchDog TipSheet free by subscribing to the SEJournal Online, the digital news magazine of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here

WatchDog TipSheet is also available through the searchable archive below and via RSS feed.

Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

November 14, 2012

  • When NPR's David Schultz wanted to report last month on whether extra mumps vaccinations given in 2009 to Jewish children in the NYC area had worked or had side effects, he ran up against an embargo imposed by the journal Pediatrics. If you worry about how embargoes affect journalists' access, you may want to follow Embargo Watch.

  • In September, South Dakota meat processor Beef Products, Inc., had sued ABC, some of its anchors and correspondents, and a USDA microbiologist under South Dakota law for reporting on the controversial meat filler. The company said it would oppose the October 31st motion to dismiss.

  • Here are more Congressional Research Service reports relevant to the environment/energy beat, published by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

October 31, 2012

  • Gripes about PIO policies are not new. Now an article in the Society of Professional Journalists' Quill magazine takes the complaint to a higher level, arguing PIO restrictions are not aimed at access and accuracy, and urging journalists to resist the PIO requirements in their own work — and to work together nationally to elevate the PIO censorship issue.

  • The gas industry won itself an exemption from disclosure requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005. But now environmentalists have a new angle, claiming EPA has authority to compel disclosure under a different law (the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act) — and urging EPA to use it.

  • Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility's new guide to state whistleblower laws starts with a map — click on any state to link to its whistleblower law and other related info. Federally, there is currently a bill in play in Congress which would strengthen the notoriously weak federal whistleblower protections.

  • Fifteen environmental and public health groups say EPA had not allowed sufficient time for public review, only put relevant information into its docket at the last minute, and emphasized easing a "burden" utilities had lived with for years at the expense of protecting the public.

October 17, 2012

  • NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is considering a rule which could restrict public access to important data on commercial fishing — and overfishing. This data includes federally required public records paid for by taxpayers. The watchdog group OMB Watch criticized the proposed rule's handling of confidential information

  • RCFP's new online guide to appealing federal FOIA decisions, written by smart, experienced media lawyers, "will be particularly useful to independent journalists and those at news organizations who don’t have ready access to legal counsel to help file appeals."

  • Danielle Ivory reports for Bloomberg: "At least 25 federal agencies are outsourcing parts of the FOIA process. The contractors, sometimes using workers with security clearances, are building FOIA software, corresponding with requesters, redacting documents and recommending what information should be withheld."

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